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NavSource Online: Submarine Photo Archive

O-12 (SS-73)


O-11 Class Submarine: Laid down, 6 March 1916, at Lake Torpedo Boat Co., Bridgeport, CT.; Launched, 29 September 1917; Commissioned, USS O-12, 19 October 1918, at New York; Designated (SS-73), 17 July 1920; Decommissioned, 17 June 1924, at Philadelphia, PA.; Laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, Philadelphia; Struck from the Naval Register, 29 May 1930; Transferred to USSB for conversion for Arctic exploration, renamed Nautilus; Final Disposition, scuttled, 20 November 1931 in Norwegian waters.

Specifications: Displacement, surfaced: 491 t., submerged: 566 t.; Length 175'; Beam 16' 7"; Draft 13' 11"; Speed, surfaced 14 kts, submerged 11 kts; Operational Depth Limit 200 ft; Complement 2 Officers 27 Enlisted; Armament, four 18" torpedo tubes, eight torpedoes, one 3"/23 deck gun; Propulsion, diesel-electric, Busch Sulzer Brothers Diesel Engine Co., diesels, 1,000 hp, Fuel Capacity, 18,588 gal.; Diehl Manufacture Co. electric motors, 800 hp, Battery Cells 120, single propeller.
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O-12 135k Simon Lake's O-12 (SS-73) retained his trademark stern and amidships planes (shown folded down in the outboard view). Note the seperate flooding ports in the watertight superstructure. Drawing by Jim Christley, text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
N-4 62k N-4 (SS-56) outboard with O-12 (SS-73) inboard, at Lake Torpedo Boat Co., Bridgeport, CT., 16 January 1917.
USN photo # 19-N-871B, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
N-5, 4, & O-12 110k N-4 (SS-56), N-5 (SS-57), & O-12 (SS-73) tied up to dock at Lake Torpedo Boat Co., Bridgeport, CT., 1 April 1918. USN photo # 19-N-884, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
O-11 through O-16 238k From inboard to outboard: O-11 (SS-72), O-13 (SS-74), O-14 (SS-75) , O-15 (SS-76), O-16 (SS-77), and O-12 (SS-73), at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard, circa 1918-24.
USN photo # 80-G-1024950, from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), courtesy of Daniel Dunham.
O-12 110k Starboard side view of the O-12 (SS-73), circa 1918-24. USN photo courtesy of ussubvetsofwwii.org.
Lake Boats 122k Lake boats show their distinctive sterns at Philadelphia Navy Yard in 1919: O-boats, inboard O-12 (SS-73), outboard O-14 (SS-75), middle boat,N-7 (SS-59) and two other unidentified boats.
After WW I the U.S. Navy standardized on Lake's flat stern, whose buoyancy kept the propellers and diving planes down in the water.
Photo i.d. courtesy of Dave Johnston (USNR).
Photo & text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
O-12 77k O-12 (SS-73) at Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone in February 1920. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph # NH 74644 submitted by Robert Hurst.
O-11 through O-16 81k O boats possibly in Phila. PA circa 1924:
From inboard to outboard: unidentified O boat, O-11 (SS-72), O-12 (SS-73), O-16 (SS-77) & O-14 (SS-75).
USN photo submitted by Charles Worcester.
O-12 97k O-12 (SS-73) shown here in her decommissioned state at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Moored to the right in the photo is most likely the ex-Tonopah (M-8) or Cheyenne (M-10). Both had been used as submarine tenders. Photo provided by the late Rick Larson MMCM (SS) (ret.) via Ric Hedman.
Sir Hubert Wilkins Arctic Expedition
O-12 224k O-12 (SS-73) was discarded in 1930 to be rebuilt by Lake & Danenhower Inc., of Bridgeport CT., for the Wilkins Artic expedition. Lake had long thought about submarine operations under ice; in 1903, he built a trestle atop his Protector and deliberatley operated her in iced waters. The Nautilus conversion, shown here, was far more sophisticated. Drawing by Jim Christley, text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press.
O-12 418k U.K., 14 April: Tragedy marred the first trip of Sir Hubert Wilkins submarine Nautilus in which the explorer hopes to navigate beneath the Arctic ice, when Willard B. Grimmer, the twenty seven year old quartermaster of the submarine was swept overboard in New York harbour as the submarine made its way to the Brooklyn Navy yard for its christening. Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images, courtesy of gettyimages.com.
Photo added 12/21/16.
O-12 742k (Original Caption) A bucketful of cracked ice was used for the christening at the Brooklyn Navy Yard for the submarine Nautilus, which had been fitted out for a trip this summer to the North Pole. Jean Jules Verne, grandson of the author of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. aided Lady Wilkins, wife of Sir Hubert Wilkins, leader of the proposed Arctic expedition, in the ceremonies. Speeches were made by Sir Hubert, Verne and Captain Sloan Danenhower, commander of the vessel. Here is a general view showing the throngs getting a glimpse of the Nautilus being christened in the Navy Yard. Photo by George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images, courtesy of gettyimages.com.
Photo added 12/21/16.
O-12 382k Sir Hubert Wilkins submarine Nautilus is half submerged during it trail trip at sea. Photo by Schenectady Museum; Hall of Electrical History Foundation/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images, courtesy of gettyimages.com.
Photo added 12/21/16.
O-12 384k U.K., 5 August - Sir Hubert Wilkins in his polar exploration submarine Nautilus, with which he is to attempt to cross the North Pole arrived at Bergen, Norway. Photo by Planet News Archive/SSPL/Getty Image, courtesy of gettyimages.com.
Photo added 12/21/16.
O-12 384k U.K., 20 August: Sir Hubert Wilkins polar submarine Nautilus leaving Tromsoe, Norway, for the final stages of its journey to the North Pole and its adventurous attempt to pass under the polar ice. Photo by Planet News Archive/SSPL/Getty Image, courtesy of gettyimages.com.
Photo added 12/21/16.
O-12 16k ex O-12 (SS-73), in service as Nautilus on the Wilkins-Ellsworth Arctic Expedition in 1931. US Navy Arctic Laboratory
O-12 18k ex O-12 (SS-73), in service as Nautilus on the Wilkins-Ellsworth Arctic Expedition in 1931. US Navy Arctic Laboratory.
SS 73 932k ex O-12 (SS-73) crossing ocean from New London to North Pole before it broke down and was towed to Ireland. Wilkins in command, June 1931. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection via Sean Hert & flickr.com.
O-12 16k ex O-12 (SS-73), port bow view as Nautilus on the Wilkins-Ellsworth Arctic Expedition in 1931. Photo from the "Illustrated Directory of Submarines of the World", pg. 119, by David Miller.
O-12 402k (Original Caption) Sir Hubert Wilkins is shown with radio expert R. Meyers, and Frank Crilley, deep sea diver, about to toss overboard the 'Stars and Stripes' and the American Society of Elks emblem in the Arctic waters at the northernmost point of their dash toward the North Pole, in the submarine Nautilus. The other two crew members were not identified. Photo by Bettmann/Getty Image, courtesy of gettyimages.com.
Photo added 12/21/16.
O-12 263k (Original Caption) On 4 June 1931, the submarine Nautilus which had been rented from the United States Navy, left Provincetown, Massachusetts, on the first leg of a journey which was destined to take it to within a few hundred miles of the North Pole. Sir Hubert Wilkins, veteran air explorer was in command of this, the first attempt to explore the polar area from a submarine. Although the pole was not reached, Sir Hubert and his scientific staff obtained much data of scientific value. The sub returned to civilization in September after experiencing some hair-raising adventures and escapes from death. In the above picture, the Nautilus is shown amid Polar ice, about to plunge to the bottom of the Polar sea. The insert shows Sir Hubert Wilkins Photo by Bettmann/Getty Image, courtesy of gettyimages.com.
Photo added 12/21/16.

View the O-12 (SS-73)
DANFS history entry located on the Haze Gray & Underway Web Site.
Crew Contact And Reunion Information
Not Applicable to this Vessel
Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
PigBoats.COM TM, a Historic Look at Submarines
American Philosophical Society, Nautilus (Submarine) Photograph Collection 1931

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